Friday, February 21, 2014

Maui Winter Break

Hawaii is the perfect cure for the winter blues so when Dayne and I received a deal from the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas we jumped at it. A few years ago we had a similar deal from the Marriott for a trip to Kauai which was a great experience, so we used an Alaska Air companion fare, took their free rental car and inexpensive hotel deal and off we went.

As our flight was a bit early we decided to stay at Cedarbrook Lodge, who not only generously offered me a special rate but also had a delicious tray of meats, cheeses, and fruit in our room when we arrived. We've stayed here in the past and as before,our overnight was perfect. Quiet and comfortable room, complimentary wi-fi, and quick shuttle to the airport giving me a chance to get a bit more sleep!

We also had a lovely dinner in their restaurant Copperleaf.  My butter-poached lobster and Dayne's bacon-wrapped boar were both delicious, and as I've stated before, the plating here is so pretty!

After our easy flight into Kahului we picked up our car at the airport and decided to upgrade to a convertible since the base price was part of our Westin deal. Top down, it was a 50 minute incredibly scenic drive across the island and then up the coastline to Ka'anapali.

The Westin property is huge, actually divided into two separate sections each with their own lobby, pools, etc. We checked into our studio-apartment complete with washer/dryer, kitchenette, jacuzzi bathtub, and view of Kahekili Beach Park and the ocean. Our luggage arrived just in time for us to catch Happy Hour at the beach bar and watch the lighting of the tiki torches. 

February is prime whale watching season as the humpback whales are here to give birth and to mate. We went on a whale watch cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation (HIGHLY recommend them) but even if we hadn't, you couldn't look out at the ocean without seeing numerous exhale plumes minimally and huge tails descending the water if you were luckier. On our cruise we were not even 5 minutes out of the harbor when we had a group of 3 on our port side and another 2 on our starboard. Everyone was excited to spot the first tail!

We had non stop whale spotting for 2-hours, adults and babies. We saw breaching from afar, finslaps and spyhops closer to our boat. And they lowered a hydrophone so we could hear the whales singing, it was amazing! And LOUD!!
Baby and Mother

Near the end of our cruise a baby humpback decided she was very interested in our boat and swam right up and proceeded to circle us. She was spinning underwater, doing little spyhops, slapping her fins, and watching us. The mother whale and her escort pretty much stayed under the surface, close enough that we could see both of their huge figures! Being as the whales were closer than 1000 feet to us we could not have the motor on the boat going. Our captain radioed the harbor as we were going to be late getting back, stating that we were being mugged by whales!

The naturalist on board was great at pointing out the different tail markings and explaining their behavior. We also learned that during Dec thru March, most of the areas are Whale Preserves and that means that jetboats, jetskies, etc are not allowed. The absence of this noise made our trip even more relaxing.

We kept our dive gear bag in the trunk, ready to stop and snorkel on a whim. The weather was a bit windy/rainy the day we drove up to check out Kapalua Bay but it was such a pretty spot that we ended back up there another day. The beach and bay are gorgeous but the reef isn't in as good of shape as others, we even saw people standing on the reef with dive booties instead of flippers on! Bad tourists!

We snorkeled right off our property on Ka'anapali Beach and also next to us at Kahekili. We saw lots of various butterfly fish, triggerfish, saddle wrasse, bannerfish, and even an octopus! I saw a turtle from the beach one afternoon but sadly we weren't in the water with any (that we knew of). The other really cool thing was that you could hear the whales while snorkeling!

We also both learned to stand-up paddle-board which was hard at first, becoming a bit easier over time. The water was so clear that we could see the fish and the reef while standing (or kneeling!) and paddling along. And even when we fell, the water was warm and refreshing.

And of course we took in the awesome Maui sunsets.

Maui photos here.